When it comes to field recorders, Zoom is the absolute forerunner if you ask us. For years it has had a succesful line in which they offer suitable field recorders, big or small, for every possible situation.
Today we will be looking at the latest addition of this line, the Zoom H8. The Zoom H8 is placed in between the Zoom H6 and F6. Zoom calls it a handy recorder, because of its portability and relatively small size. This is no longer really the case with the Zoom H8, since it is actually rather large.
Keen to find out if the Zoom H8 is the recorder for you? Continue reading!
The Zoom H8's functions
A unique design results in several interesting functions. For instance, it is possible to record 12 tracks simultaneously, the microphone capsules are adjustable, the operating system is app inspired and user friendly, it has a touch screen, podcast audio triggers, a music app, effects, EQ, and many more functions to boot!
The podcast app is made specially for podcast creators. It provides a unique display with audio trigger functions, such as applause, as well as other options. It is also possible to upload your own audio files from an SD card and link them to triggers.
This app specialises in recording several musicians at the same time. For this, the Zoom H8 offers two Hi-Z line inputs. The app displays all tracks in a clear way. It also allows you to apply EQ, or other effects, like compression, to each individual track.
This function proves to be slightly tricky, since the way it functions is very different from the way it does on a PC, so some caution is advised when tinkering with the app's settings.
Furthermore one can connect with Zoom Guitar Lab with USB to get access to amplifiers and guitar effects.
All of this is most elaborate for a field recorder, which is good if you want to get creative.
The field app is developed for some traditional field recording. Among its functions are sound design on site. This offers you a clear fader, or several enlarged ones.
It offers access to effects which are useful when recording on site, like lo-cut, compression, limiter, and noise gate, to name a few.
Inputs and outputs
The H8 itself has four XLR-inputs, two combi Hi-Z inputs, which makes for a total of six inputs. Then there is the mountable capsule as an add-on, which provide you with four extra inputs as well as mini jack microphones.
So, in a nutshell, plenty of inputs to work with, among which dedicated instrument inputs, so you could plug your guitar in, for instance. A big plus!
The H8 can be operated remotely with the BTA-1 Module, so you could link an iPhone or other devices to it. We have tested this ourselves with the F6 and it works very well.
The H8 can also be used as an audio interface when combined with your PC. It allows you to record up to 20 hours of different WAV and MP3 formats from 44.1kHz until 96kHz whilst running on 4 AA-batteries.
2.0 capsule system
The H8 employs a new capsule system. Wondering what that is, exactly? Zoom field recorders are known for having detachable microphones which can be switched around. By default, the H8 comes with a XYH-6 microphone, which includes two matched, unidirectional microphones.
This may also be adjusted to a system in which one creates four extra inputs. For this, Zoom has also released new attachable microphones, such as the XAH-8 or the VRH-8 for 360 degree audio recording. The EXH-8 even comes with four extra inputs, including controls.
The build quality is simply good. The inputs are very sturdy, the controls are well thought-out, and all in all, the recorder feels sturdy and solid. We do wonder whether in the long run, the display is prone to get scratched or otherwise damaged, but we decided against testing this.
Another neat feature is that the protection caps for input are detachable, in case you find it easier to control that way.
Hard plastic has been Zoom's material of choice for the H8. This makes it feel a tad cheaper, albeit lighter in the hand.
Zoom is fielding a sizable modular strategy. This translates to the option to connect various microphones with the capsule, Bluetooth is supported when using a Dongle, and so forth and so forth. All these optional add ons allow the base product to be very affordable. In case you want more functionality, you can always opt for it.
We see this as a big plus. This prevents you from paying for functions you don't intend to use, and keeps the base product at an affordable price.
The app user interface in combination with the app feel that Zoom has developed also works very well, users are used to this through smartphone use and that is why it is as easy as Zoom to make this available, so that you as a user can quickly find your way through the menu.
All in all, a great release by Zoom!